As the last post was somewhat incoherent, I thought I owed it to you, dear reader, to give a fuller and hopefully more interesting account of my week at the wood shop…
Day 1: Adrenaline and the call of nature combine for a wake-up call at 0530, which makes for a slightly relaxed morning ready to start at seven. It’s cold and dark, as you’d expect at 0700 in January. The Boss makes introductions to the other staff. I’m terrible at names, and my notebook (brought for such events) is in bag downstairs. Fortunately of the four I know the boss and the other apprentice has the same name as my son. so repeat the other two names in my head for half an hour while everyone rushes about. Do some simple jobs that even I can’t mess up, and spend most of the day watching the ‘proper’ carpenters making bespoke furniture and trying to figure what they’re doing and how. Feet hurt.
Day 2: Get up at 0530 again so I can have relaxed start. Unfortunately I then see it’s snowing: I’m responsible for clearing snow from my son’s Kindergarten, so a relaxed hour getting ready for work becomes a mad dash uphill with shovel and broom and a mad dash home, wolf down calories and run to work. Yard at work is covered in snow: I assume I’ll be cleaning this too but no, I’m sent off to the next town with a Real Carpenter, a lot of tools and an unreasonably heavy piece of glass. This is to replace a broken one in the customers kitchen. Real Carpenter wallops this until it’s thoroughly shattered and we manage to fit the replacement without dropping it first. Back home for lunch. Someone else swept the yard, hooray. Spend much of the afternoon scraping paint off a cupboard that someone painted sludge green with paint that was the consistency of vomit. After this I’m holding the other end of various bits of wood while a Real Carpenter cuts out a complex kit of parts for a new ceiling, and a door/wall that has to fit into a house at an angle of exactly 31 degrees. Added interest is provided by trying to understand instructions in German through ear defenders.
Day 3: Go to build ceiling and wall. Ceiling boards don’t fit, which we discover while trying to hold large slabs of chipboard over our heads. Much faffing with details and much patience from Real Carpenter as his careful instructions result in my doing a Laurel and Hardy act. Eventually ceiling done, door in place, come home ninety minutes late, feet sore, but energy levels noticeably better than previous days.
Day 4: Given a ‘project’: several wood parts to measure, drill, then glue and screw together in a box. Measuring works out (building model trains has advantages) but use the wrong drill bit causing the wood to spin like a frisbee and the drill to drop bits on the floor. This is not good. Change drill bit but forget to clamp the wood down so the drill repeats the operation. Apparently it’s not my fault the drill broke and I’m sent off to spray something while the drill is fixed. Finish box and leave it for the Real Carpenters to have a good laugh at. G o home to rest feet.
Day 5: Last day and joy of joys only a half day. Told to move heater into wood store. Heater is heavy so naturally it needs to go upstairs. Come back down to find boss looking for heater. Bring heater back downstairs. Boss highly amused, not for the last time that morning.
Off to fix doors in an apartment. This becomes a game of ‘look for the front door key in the garden’. Boss calls owner who confirms it is under a rock but as there’s about a hundred rocks this isn’t helpful. Doing this in -12 degrees isn’t helpful either. Eventually a neighbour lets us in.
Back later to the boss and the box. The box is with the boss. The boss explains the box*. Apparently not all the interviewees are given this project and I wasn’t expected to do this perfectly, thank goodness: I thought I’d blown it when I had to make four attempts to fit the door correctly. I think it will be shown future apprentices ‘how not to do it’ for several years to come.
Head home for lunch and to cool feet off.
I enjoyed myself and the work, although I’m aware that’s mostly because I was working with a very patient and professional team. Now the boss needs to “have a think” and let me know about the placement in a couple of weeks: meanwhile I’m working on another possibility and I’ll be on a course next weekend for that. More details to follow.
*I’m easily amused.